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Cookbook Cleanout: Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

January 31, 2010

At the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to thin out some of the bizillions of cookbooks that we have.  I have acquired a LOT of cookbooks — some that were given to me from family, some that were free (I know I have a “Wisconsin’s Favorite Recipes” somewhere…), and some that I received through  At any rate, we need to get rid of some.  But how?  How do you really and legitimately thin out your cookbook collection?  I’m not entirely certain, but right now my theory is to go through each cookbook, decide what recipes might be worth trying, and if there are a few good ones, keep the book.  If not, I will rid myself of it.  It’s going to be so hard, but I’ll have to do it.

First recipe from my Cookbook Cleanout Challenge was Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce from 1994’s Cook Healthy, Cook Quick.  I got this book from Paperbackswap — and though it’s only from 15 years ago, it sort of feels like a relic.  Either way, this recipe was actually in a section entitled “Sunday Night Supper,” and seeing that it is Sunday (and dinner time), it was a natural fit.

Was it a great dinner?  Well…. on a scale of 1 – 10, I probably would give it a 4.  It had potential, but it was sort of bland.  I think it could definitely be salvaged with more garlic, more cooking time and more seasoning.  We’re not going to toss it — but we’re both hopeful that the leftovers reheat a little better. I will post the recipe, as I made it, which differs slightly from the book’s instructions.  If you want to attempt this, please feel free to make any modifications necessary, to make this recipe a 10 for you!

(Also, in case you’re wondering, I’ve got a few more recipes flagged from this cookbook to try, but this recipe isn’t quite convincing me to hold onto the book…)

Cookbook Cleanout: Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Penne Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

adapted from Cook Healthy, Cook Quick, published by Oxmoor House in 1994

  • 8 oz. penne pasta (we used Barilla whole wheat pasta)
  • 4 oz. Canadian bacon, chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained and chopped (or squished, which is the way I do it)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. evaporated skim milk

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

2.  Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat.  Add Canadian bacon, red pepper, onion, and garlic, and saute until vegetables are tender.  Add tomato and next four ingredients.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer, about 10 minutes.

3.  Combine flour and evaporated milk and stir well.  Add to tomato mixture, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, or until slightly thickened.

4.  Add pasta, stirring well.  Cook until warmed through. You may want to serve this with grated Parmesan or more basil.

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